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  • Vancouver View -- CoComm Update, IOC EB Dates Set, Venue Faces Financial Pinch


    Thunderbird Arena is now open. (Getty)
    CoComm gets Second Vancouver Update

    Today, the International Olympic Committee’s 2010 Coordination Commission will get its second update of the year on planning for Vancouver 2010.

    Outdoor venues are substantially complete and the secondary hockey venue, Thunderbird Arena, is open. The rest of the new competition venues will be finished by the end of the year.

    Bigger issues remain to be resolved, however.

    The transportation plan, originally expected by the end of 2007, will not be ready until spring 2009. The security budget has ballooned from $145 million to more than $331 million, but negotiations continue between the provincial government, municipal police forces and the RCMP Vancouver 2010 Integrated Security Unit.

    CoComm chair Rene Fasel and Games Executive Director Gilbert Felli are expected to give their progress report on Thursday. Their visit is followed immediately by the first indoor test event, the ISU Samsung Short-Track Speedskating World Cup at the Pacific Coliseum, Oct. 24-26.

    IOC Executive Board to Meet in Vancouver

    The ruling IOC Executive Board has finally scheduled a meeting in Vancouver, now set for Dec. 9 to 11, 2009, just two months before the opening ceremony of the 2010 Winter Games.

    The EB traditionally meets in the Olympics host city in the year before the Games.

    In addition to a review of the preparations for the Vancouver Olympics, the EB will confirm any new disciplines for sports on the program for the London Olympics, such as the application to include women’s boxing.

    The EB will, of course, meet again in Vancouver on the eve of the 2010 Games, followed by the IOC Session.

    Intrawest Resort Faces Sliding Revenues

    VANOC may not be feeling the pinch of the global economic crisis, but a venue owner may be.

    The Financial Times reported Oct. 17 that Fortress Investment Group (FIG) faces an Oct. 23 deadline for $1.68 billion in debt payments for Vancouver-based Intrawest, parent of Whistler-Blackcomb.

    Whistler hosts alpine skiing in 2010, while Blackcomb is the site of the sliding center. Both ski area properties are leased to Intrawest by the provincial government.
    Fortress bought Intrawest in 2005 for $2.8 billion. Subsidiary Fortress Credit Corporation holds a $750 million mortgage at the Southeast False Creek Olympic Village, which is more than $60 million over-budget.

    New York Stock Exchange-listed FIG peaked at $37 a share in 2007 and closed at $5.55 on Friday. Last February, CNBC's "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer called Fortress "a sand castle."


    ...The Conference Board of Canada's autumn survey found consumer confidence is at its lowest since the 1982 recession. The October consumer confidence index, compiled in an Oct. 2-8 survey, found17 percent of consumers expected their finances to decline over the next six months. The Conference Board predicted Canada could avoid a recession, while two of the country’s biggest banks, BMO and Scotiabank, both forecast a recession.

    ...A British Columbia Supreme Court judge called it unconstitutional to deny homeless people the right to sleep in city parks in an Oct. 14 ruling against the City of Victoria. Homeless advocates successfully challenged a 2005 eviction from a public park in the provincial capital. The City of Vancouver is examining the ruling for how it may affect the Olympic city. Members of Vancouver’s Streams of Justice held a five-day campout and fast outside Vancouver city hall to urge candidates in the coming civic election to end the city’s homelessness crisis.

    ...A park in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside ghetto may be a Games' celebration site in 2010. Carnegie Community Centre Director Ethel Whitty has proposed the Winter Oasis Festival and is seeking funds from a $1 million civic social sustainability program.

    ...The 10-stop Canadian Pacific Spirit Train ended Oct. 18 with yet another protest. Approximately 100 people, including Mohawk natives, were at the Montreal event to promote native and homeless rights and oppose the 2010 Games. The previous weekend, protesters briefly blocked railway tracks near Toronto. "Despite the efforts of small groups of protesters at some stops along the route, the enthusiasm and participation of local Canadians was evident," a joint release from VANOC and Canadian Pacific stated. The anti-Games Olympic Resistance Network is holding a day-long symposium at SFU Harbour Centre in Vancouver on Oct. 26 to discuss opposition to the Games.

    ...An aboriginal group has complained to the IOC ethics commission about comments made by Dick Pound, the former WADA head and Vancouver 2010 director. Land In Sights' Director Andrew Dudemaine took issue with Pound's quote in the Aug. 9 edition of Montreal newspaper La Press, in which he said "Canada was a land of savages, with scarcely 10,000 inhabitants of European origin" 400 years ago.

    ...The 2010 Winter Olympics' motorcoach fleet will include buses and drivers from as far as Ontario and the United States. Motor Coach Canada President Brian Crow conceded that drivers and vehicles will be imported from south of the border because "there are not enough coaches and drivers specifically in Canada that are available."

    ...One of Vancouver's oldest buildings could be Canada Olympic House in 2010. Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation is in talks with the Canadian Olympic Committee to use the exhibition hall at the Roundhouse community center in Yaletown from Feb. 4-March 2, 2010 as a meeting place for athletes, coaches, their families and friends and sponsors. The 1888 red-brick Roundhouse was restored for Expo 86 and houses Engine 374, which hauled the first transcontinental train to the west coast in 1887. Nearby David Lam Park will be one of two civic Live Sites.

    ...Coal Harbour Community Centre will be closed to the public, however, because it will be the international protocol centre from Jan. 1-March 31, 2010.

    ...VANOC began taking applications on Oct. 14 for an opening and closing ceremonies producer for the Paralympics. Deadline is 2 p.m. PDT Oct. 30. The Paralympics open March 12, 2010. By comparison, VANOC searched seven months before it named Australian David Atkins the Olympic ceremonies producer last year. The Paralympic ceremonies producer is expected to "make significant attempts to include talented performers with a disability," according to the request for proposals.

    ...Karl's Global Events of Milwaukee, Wis., has a $3 million to $15 million deal to provide frame tents and pole tents to the 2010 Games. President John Shlueter said Karl’s is providing a million square feet of material. The tents will serve as participant lounges, briefing areas, offices and dining halls.

    ...VANOC licensee Kootenay Knitting has collaborated with its First Nations co-owners from the Nisga'a tribe to create apparel for Canada’s cross-country ski team. The company in the southeast B.C. town of Cranbrook used designs inspired by artist and seamstress Selena Sampare from the northwest B.C. village of Laxgalts'ap.

    With reporting from Bob Mackin in Vancouver.

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